On that crazy Tuesday morning when my entire being was focused on “getting to New Zealand,” I could hardly wait for the passport office door to open. When it did, I went straight to the window and handed over my expired passport. The clerk asked me when my flight was. “Midnight.” “ Purpose for travel?” “A family emergency.” His snarky response: “Yea right. Come back at 3 pm. We’ll see what we can do.”
We’ll see what we can do? We’ll see what we can do?? I needed my passport now! I wanted to scream. My instinct told me that I must do whatever it took to achieve the goal. Do not create barriers. I didn’t want to give this snarky clerk any reason to delay processing my passport. I quietly thanked the man and left.
Right before the passport office had opened, as I stood by patiently, I heard the elevator door opening and looked toward the door. Out came a handsome woman with blond hair, dressed well with a strained look on her face, accompanied by her family. Our eyes met. We did not speak. But I think we connected. She was there on a mission and, like mine, it wasn’t a happy one. As I left the passport office, I wondered if that clerk was, at that moment, being snarky to her, too.
From 9 AM to 3 PM, I had to wait. Jeff and I drove to a coffee shop. I tried to eat, but mostly drank coffee. We worked the logistics to get me to the passport office early and then to the San Francisco Airport, 13 miles and 20 minutes away without traffic, on time to make a 5 PM flight. This was cutting it close.
At 2 PM, we went back to the passport office, an hour early. I went up the elevator while Jeff drove the car repeatedly around the block. I waited. The lady with the blond hair arrived a few minutes after me, an hour early. Our eyes met again. We still did not speak. As 3 PM approached, the elevator doors opened regularly as more and more people filled up the area, all waiting in line for their passports. Out of nowhere, one man walked to the front and began to step in line in front of me, and in front of the lady with the blonde hair. We both pounced. The poor man didn’t know what hit him. He scurried to the end of the line. Back to silence.
I was the first person to get my new passport at 3 PM. I rushed down the elevator and saw Jeff pulling around the corner. I jumped in the car and we drove off to the airport. I jumped out, checked in, passed security, and made it to my gate in the nick of time.
I was now on my way to New Zealand.
TODAY’S HOW TO
I still wonder about the lady with blond hair. I still wonder about her situation and wonder if her life, too, was, at that moment, changing forever. When we made eye contact, I knew in my heart that I was not alone. Today, I wonder how she is doing. Today, I wonder if I should have said hello.
No, silence was enough.